by Jim Reyland
I recognize how lucky I am to have two full productions of brand new plays in one Nashville season, but it’s not because of folks like me; it’s because there is a citywide appetite for brand new, locally grown, well made, electric art.”
—Nashville Playwright Nate Eppler
I’m guessing that’s how it starts, an offhand challenge from an English teacher or a literary friend. Perhaps you’ve just said to them, “I can do that; it’s not that hard.” Nate Eppler, Nashville Rep’s playwright in residence, took the challenge and has proven that for him and anyone else who tries it, while playwriting is hard, we still do it. Nate’s also never given up, which is why he has two plays in Nashville’s 2016 season. Nate confesses, “If I don’t write every day, I get very unpleasant to be around.”
First in February is Nate’s new play Good Monsters, in development at Nashville Rep as part of the Ingram New Works Lab with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright. “With Good Monsters I wanted to see if I could find empathy where I would usually find very little,” says Nate. “He’s an off-duty cop who shoots an unarmed teenage shoplifter in the back. And while I did find empathy, I also found that empathy does not settle accounts. Forgiveness does not quiet the dead.”
Next up in steamy July is Nate’s new play The Ice Treatment, also developed at the Ingram New Works Lab. “I suppose the big secret is that The Ice Treatment isn’t really about Tonya Harding. Even our cultural memory of that event is folkloric and pretty far from fact,” explains Nate. “We should put a disclaimer at the top of the show: Please do not attempt to learn any history from this play.”
Writing a new play is like eating a coconut. It’s hard to start, but once you’re into it a while, it’s pretty good, and when you finally finish, you’re definitely proud of yourself. Join Nate Eppler twice in 2016 as we all stand up and celebrate a job well done.
Nashville Repertory Theatre presents a new play for Nashville, Nate Eppler’s Good Monsters, February 11–27 at TPAC. Buy tickets online at www.nashvillerep.org. This summer, Actors Bridge presents Nate Eppler’s The Ice Treatment, July 15–24 at the Belmont Black Box Theatre. For ticket information, visit www.actorsbridge.org. Read more about Nate Eppler and his work at www.nateeppler.weebly.com.